Monday, August 27, 2007

What Makes You Happy?

I saw in the news that there was one winner of the huge lottery this weekend. They won something like $140,000,000. That is a lot of zeros!

Would you be happy with lots of money? If everything went just as you planned and all your proverbial ducks were in a row, would you be more satisfied with life? I don't think it will conjure any winning lottery tickets for us but according to this article on the CNN money site by Jeanne Sahadi we may be more inclined to have things go well for us if we are happy people to begin with.

Well, that isn't good news for all us gloom and doomers is it now? Actually, according to the article pessimist, or realist, actually perform better in some jobs. But all isn't lost! We can learn to be happier.

We can develop the skills that one needs to think positive and ultimately live a happier more satisfied life. So there is hope yet! I read an article somewhere that said that lottery winners, and others with large expendable incomes, are found not to be any happier after spending their money on the material items they wanted to purchase. The boats, houses, cars and diamonds give a high that only last so long. If there isn't a core of happiness, a foundation of positive outlook there in the beginning, they soon return to their former level of satisfaction with life. One article I read matched census data on earnings with data on self-reported happiness from a national survey. When comparing people with the same income, with ones living in a richer area data showed that the people in the richer area reported being less happy.

The thing that consistently helped to raise the level of overall happiness in life was to use money to create memories. Yep, after taking care of the basic needs and paying our base expenses, spending time creating memorable moments in life went further toward making for a happy life than anything they could buy.

Ok, I know that you can create some really big memories with $140,000,000! Granted. But since the Powerball people aren't passing out checks this year, especially to people who don't buy tickets, I think we had better find some more realistic ways to create some fun memories.

One of the things our family found that created some of the most memorable times and cost the least was camping. We collected sleeping bags and camping equipment from yard sales and thrift stores. We bought our first tent on clearance. Our investment was very small.

We had some relaxing trips, some wild and wooly nights ( never did figure what that animal outside clawing around was) and some downright disastrous experiences (how much water could a sleeping bag hold if a sleeping bag could hold water?). But we bonded during those times and we still love talking about them.

Getting control of our money gives us the time and opportunity to find productive, satisfying ways to spend our days, and to spend time with family and friends. After all, that is why we practice all this frugal stuff in the first place isn't it?.

Pic: Lillies and Purple Coneflower. Townsend, Tn.


Sonny said...

I think that a lot of the problem with that people are no happier with a lot of money than those without it is that they are too in debt. Only their debt is larger than on an average income. I read somewhere that people who "make it" have smaller debt because if they were raised "poor" and earn their money they are less likely to squander it. I do not find that to be true. People who had less when earning more have a tendency to try and provide what they did without. At least that is the case with my DH. Now that the kids are older he sees that it was not a wise idea because the little(big) buggers only want(expect) more. It's kinda like that keeping up with the Jones' thing.

My name is Michelle. said...

I don't mean this to sound "preachy" at all, but I sincerely believe that happiness is found in Jesus. And when we have the peace that comes from being saved, only then can we find beauty and happiness in our lives in little things.

From personal experience, I don't think money matters much. Assuming you have enough for the basics of course.

What a great topic!

Christine said...

I sure would love to have a good chunk of money to pay off school loans. We also love to do inexpensive getaways like camping. Those are some of our greatest memories! We consider it a real big deal when we rent a KOA Kabin for $45 a night.

Carrie J said...

Michelle,You don't sound preachy. That is mainly what the articles reported that money doesn't matter, as far as happiness is concerned, after you have enough to meet your needs. Your personal and spiritual life is what matters after you have met your needs. I agree.
Sonny, Living beyond your means can only cause more stress. But I don't know that that is the main problem. I think you can be out of debt and still unhappy if you are looking to the wrong things to find peace and happiness. I do agree that too many people who grew up in families that struggle financially can try to buy happiness for themselves and their children when they have the chance.
Christine, We have stayed in those KOA Kabins and I love them. It is fun to sit in the front porch swings at night. Someday I want one of those little pop up campers. The ones that look like a tee pee, well, sort of.
My daughter Laura is working on her student loans. Great when you need them, then reality of paying them back sets in. Hers is really low right now though. Shouldn't take too long.

Rebecca said...

The happiest times in my life are when I'm closest to Christ. That said it's been nice since we got out of debt and started putting money in savings.

Patty said...

good post. We have had lots of money, turned our back on it and went for the simple life. maybe because it was our choice, but it has been the best thing we ever did. Living simply is just so much nicer